July 17, 2024



Karina Young

Karina Young is an entertainment journalist, content creator, and on-air radio personality for Hot 98.1 with Summit Media where she informs, entertains, and delivers trending news to the local community. Young recently introduced her new IG LIVE segment, “Kickin’ It With Karina” (@itskarinay), where she provides a platform for people from all walks of life to share their unique stories and connect with the world in hopes to inspire the youth.“I want people to know that they are limitless and can do whatever they set their minds to,” says Karina. Karina received her bachelor’s degree in communications from Winthrop University.

Kareem Puranda

Kareem Puranda is a licensed clinical mental health counselor, addiction specialist, and the owner of Self Talk Counseling and Consulting (STCC) where he provides therapeutic services to individuals struggling with trauma, substance abuse, and other mental health issues. He worked as a police officer for several years when he saw a need for counseling and building mutual trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, leading him to serve as a coach, mentor, and volunteer in those very same communities. Puranda is also a published author, public speaker, and the founder of Achieving Success on Purpose (ASOP), a nonprofit offering free counseling services to at-risk youth in the court system to help them get the healing they need to overcome their challenges. Puranda received his master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, a master’s degree in public administration from DeVry University, and bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Livingstone College.

Austin Smith

Austin Smith is the pastor of Movement Rock Hill and CEO of Austin Gerard & Co., a boutique marketing agency specializing in brand identity through logo design, web design, packaging design, cover art, marketing collateral, and social media branding. The ability to lead his family and establish a legacy that will impact future generations is a responsibility that he treasures dearly. Smith and his wife, Brea, started Movement Rock Hill in August 2020 because they had a vision for spreading the gospel throughout the community of Rock Hill. By doing so, they have transformed their platform into a place where family is found, truth transforms, and purpose is revealed. “Being a creative isn’t something that a certificate or degree makes you; it’s someone who God intended you to be. Because it’s always been inside of your DNA –– ever since He spoke you into existence,” says Smith. Smith received his bachelor’s degree in digital information design with a concentration in digital commerce from Winthrop University.

Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan Gardner is the founding executive director of GardHouse, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing post-graduate employment opportunities for students of color by maximizing work-based programming through internships in local minority-owned businesses. Gardner established GardHouse in 2019 after learning students of color in Charlotte graduating from college are twice as likely to be unemployed with no work-based programs focused solely on students of color as the city confronts the upward social mobility crisis. “It’s time to say enough is enough. Let’s cut the problem at the root to begin planting new seeds of economic progress for communities of color across the city,” says Gardner. Through the GardHouse internship program, students join a community designed to uplift them throughout their professional journey. From paid internships to development workshops, students are encouraged to gain workforce training and explore what success looks like for them. Gardner received his bachelor’s degree in public relations, advertising, and applied communication from La Salle University in Philadelphia. He previously served as a public information coordinator for the City of Charlotte and digital media director for Hillary Clinton’s political action committee.